3Arts Awards

The 3Arts Awards express our gratitude to Chicago’s women artists, artists of color, and Deaf and disabled artists for their indisputable contributions to the health and vibrancy of our city. Every year, ten artists who live and work in the six-county metropolitan area receive unrestricted $30,000 awards in dance, music, teaching arts, theater, and visual arts. Artists may use the award in any way that makes a difference to their lives and careers, including paying off debt, purchasing equipment, hiring collaborators, producing new work, and saving for the future.

We invite you to read two reports that compile reflections from artists who have received a 3Arts Award:

We thank our Award Partners and Community Award donors for their generosity in helping 3Arts support and advocate for local artists.

Selection Process

3Arts awardees are selected through a nomination and jury process. More than 100 artists are nominated annually by at least 35 anonymous local nominators--artists, curators, presenters, and advocates--who are acutely knowledgeable about the breadth of artists working in neighborhoods across the metropolitan area.

After the nominees have completed our online application process, five national, discipline-specific panels of judges convene to select ten awardees from the pool. 3Arts requires judges to disclose conflicts of interest as part of the selection process. If a strong personal or professional relationship exists between a judge and a nominated artist that might be an impediment to the integrity of the process, a full recusal from the discussion and vote is implemented.

In honor of the time and energy it takes to apply, all artists who submit an application will receive a $100 honorarium. 

Meet our 2021 judges

2012

  • None

    Miguel Aguilar

    Visual Artist Siragusa Foundation Awardee

    Artist, educator, and researcher Miguel Aguilar has been painting graffiti in Chicago since 1989. He founded Graffiti Institute in 2012, and in 2013 curated "Outside In: The Mexican-American Street Art Movement in Chicago" at the National Museum of Mexican Art. …

  • None

    Dee Alexander

    Vocalist Southwest Airlines Awardee

    Born on Chicago’s west side, Dee Alexander is one of Chicago’s most gifted and respected female vocalist/songwriters. Her talents span every music genre, from Gospel to R&B, from Blues to Neo-Soul. Yet her true heart and soul are experienced in …

  • None

    Heather Gilbert

    Lighting Designer

    Heather has been a Chicago based lighting designer for 15 years. Recent designs include THE BETTER HALF with Lucky Plush Productions, RENT (ATC/About Face Theatre), and IMMEDIATE FAMILY with Martian Productions. Her work has been seen on many Chicago stages …

  • None

    Monique Haley

    Choreographer McCormick Family Foundation Awardee

    Monique Haley is a graduate of The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in performing arts, specializing in jazz dance. Monique completed nine memorable years with the prestigious River North Chicago Dance Company …

  • None

    Halena Kays

    Director

    Halena Kays is a founding member of the artistic collaborative, The Ruffians, former member of the Big Apple Circus Clown Care unit, past artistic director of The Hypocrites, and former co-artistic curator for Theater on the Lake.

    Halena is an …

  • None

    Lanialoha Lee

    Instrumentalist

    Lanialoha is a native Hawaiian born and raised in the Chicago area and third generation descendant of the first Polynesians who migrated to the Midwest. Her Grandmother, understanding the dearth of Pacific Island cultural and musical resources available in the …

  • None

    Harold Mendez

    Multidisciplinary Artist Stan Lipkin & Evelyn Appell Lipkin Awardee

    A first-generation American born in Chicago to Colombian and Mexican parents, Harold Mendez works with installation, photography, sculpture and text to reference reconstructions of place and identity. His work addresses the relationships between transnational citizenship, memory and possibility, considering how …

  • None

    Maria Vergara

    Painter Chandler Family Artist

    Maria Astrid Vergara was born in South America and immigrated to the United States at the age of 12. Her mom sensed her passion for art in middle school and enrolled her in classes at the prestigious School of the …

  • None

    Nejla Yatkin

    Choreographer

    Described by the New York Times as "a magician, telling tales and creating worlds" and "a fierce and supple performer," Chicago-based choreographer Nejla Yatkin travels around the globe inspiring empathic connection between people and their environments. She creates solos, choreographs …

  • None

    avery r. young

    Poet, Songwriter, Performer Merrill Lynch Awardee

    Interdisciplinary artist avery r. young is a 3Arts Award winning teaching artist, composer and producer with work that spans the genres of music, performance, visual arts and literature.  Examining and celebrating Black American history and culture, his work also focuses …

2012 Judges

Dance
Penelope Dannenberg
Scott Lundius
Music
Billy Branch
Portia Maultsby
Monica Hairston O’Connell
Teaching Arts
Cecil McDonald
Jessica Hudson
Jamie Topper
Theater
Ben Cameron
Marshall Jones
Carrie Sandahl
Visual Arts
Britton Bertran
Lowery Stokes Sims
Lumi Tan

More Award Years